Dwight Howard is the Most Underrated Player in the NBA

David SpohnCorrespondent IApril 29, 2010

CHARLOTTE - APRIL 24:  Center Dwight Howard #12 of the Orlando Magic blocks a shot during Game Three of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Charlotte Bobcats during the 2010 NBA Playoffs at Time Warner Cable Arena on April 24, 2010 in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Magic beat the Bobcats 90-86.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images)
Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images

John Weisbrod is currently serving as Director of Collegiate Scouting for the Boston Bruins, but Orlando Magic fans should be eternally grateful for a single decision he made six years ago. Weisbrod held a very brief post as the General Manager of the Magic. He was the man charged with the difficult decision of choosing between the polished, University of Connecticut bred Emeka Okafor or the raw, relatively unknown high-school product Dwight Howard.

As we all know, Weisbrod would go on to select Dwight Howard, and that judgment has seen the Orlando Magic gradually transform into a contender.

Emeka Okafor has never made an All-Star team, and has already been traded while Dwight continues to add to his impressive résumé. He is the two-time winner of the NBA Defensive Player of the Year award, a four-time All-Star, has twice been named to the All-NBA First Team (And will certainly be named to it again this year), and has an Olympic gold medal to boot.

Despite all of these accolades, I still contend that Howard is underrated.

The question 'How good would a team be without their superstar?' gets posed frequently in this day and age. In my opinion, Dwight Howard is as important to the Magic as any star is to his respective team.

The Orlando Magic boasted the 5th best scoring defense (95.3) in the league this season, and the entire operation is centered around Howard's goalie like presence in the paint. His nearly 3 blocks per game attests to that. The Magic made nearly 100 more three pointers (841) than any other team in 2009-10.

The constant double teams on Dwight enable the Magic to get many of those open looks from long range. Without him, it would be multiple perimeter players who struggle to create shots for themselves.

People are quick to point at Howard's perceived limited offense. Could he be better offensively? Absolutely. It should be noted that the Magic's offense centers around Dwight getting doubled, and the ball swinging until it finds an open shooter.

In my opinion, when he is granted an opportunity to go at a guy one on one he is rather effective. Dwight has twice posted 20 points per game averages, and he routinely finishes in the top 3 in league in field goal percentage.

Dwight Howard accomplished a feat that Shaq, Chamberlain, Russell, Kareem, Duncan, Ewing, and Olajuwon never could. In 2008-09 and 2009-10, he led the NBA in rebounding and blocks. Never before had a player done it twice, let alone in consecutive seasons.

This is not to say Howard doesn't get recognition. It's my opinion that he just doesn't get enough.